I’ve had Ivo Neame’s album Caught in the Light of Day on my shelves since late 2009. I thought it was a gem then and I still do. I revisited it recently because it feels like time to take a quick retrospective view of his 2009 album before he launches off into the jazz stratosphere ( I hope!) with his own bands (quintet/octet) and the other bands he plays with. Just mentioning those other bands makes you gasp: Phronesis, Kairos 4Tet and Josh Arcoleo, and others you can check out yourself on Ivo’s website. The members of his band on Caught in the Light of Day are Jasper Høiby on bass, Jim Hart on vibes and James Maddren on drums.
When I first heard this album, the word I used to sum it up in my mind was sparkly. It’s bright, crisp and multifaceted like a diamond. The album consists of seven very strong, very complex compositions. They give you a lot to think about and focus on. They are difficult but they repay attentive listening. There are albums you need to listen to in their entirety but this is one where it appears (to me) to be advantageous to listen to each track on its own. You may concentrate on the interplay between the vibes and the piano in Free at Last (a deep partnership seen recently in an enjoyable short set at the Purcell Room) . Or you may smile in Birdbrained at the bird you can see in your mind’s eye as the vibes run up and down, the other instruments mimicking his walk. You may wonder, in passing, whether Quixotic is autobiographical? The delicacy of the piano, the abrupt changes of direction, never leaving you lost, all the musicians leading you through the maze of ideas, each composition is satisfying in its own right.
Stuart Nicholson recently wrote in Jazzwise (June 2012) that UK jazz musicians should abandon small gigs in the UK in favour of Europe if they want to do more than survive. But we need both surely? As jazz fans, we need music we can grow into, which is alive and gutsy, which stretches our minds and that’s what Ivo serves up. Highly recommended.